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March 21, 2005

Softball opens in midseason form with 6-1 win

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
MARCH 21, BLAZER STADIUM-

Blair softball manager Louis Hoelman huddled his girls together prior to their victory over the Einstein Titans, and told them that "you can't win 'em all if you don't win the first one." Whether the first part comes to fruition remains to be seen, but the Blazers won the first one convincingly, never allowing Einstein to mount a serious rally in 6-1 victory on a chilly Opening Day.

The Blazers (1-0), with a roster full sophomores, featured numerous players who were making their varsity debuts, and for the most part, they played like seasoned veterans.
Blair starter Annie Denenberg en route to a four-hitter complete game in the Blazers' 6-1 Opening Day win over Einstein Diana Frey
Blair starter Annie Denenberg en route to a four-hitter complete game in the Blazers' 6-1 Opening Day win over Einstein


Sophomore Annie Denenberg got the call to be the starting pitcher today and was in control. She pitched a complete game and only gave up four hits and a single unearned run on the day. She had a no-hitter through the first 3 1/3 innings.

Hoelman, in his typical understated fashion, said he was happy with Denenberg's outing. "Annie looked good," he said, adding that she did struggle late in the game, getting behind in ball-strike counts in the later innings. "She needs to get up in counts more consistently," Hoelman added.

Nonetheless, the Blair offense gave Denenberg enough of a cushion in the outset of the game that the pitching struggles against Einstein (0-1) were relatively insignificant. Senior Emily O'Brien drove in two runs in the first inning, and Blair staked itself to a 3-0 lead after the first inning.

Sophomore Michelle Linford, who batted in the third lineup spot, generally reserved for power hitters, hit an inside-the-park-home run. Linford's two RBI homer in the third inning gave Blair a five-run lead, and the team was in cruise control for the remainder of the game.

Both teams struggled defensively, with Einstein giving up three passed balls and committing three errors, which led to two unearned runs. The Titans' only run came after a grounder was botched by a Blair infielder in the fourth inning.

Denenberg hit a lull in the later stages of the game, walking two batters in the sixth inning. But she got the next Titan to roll over to Linford, playing shortstop, and the inning ended without damage. She then struck out the next two Titans in the seventh inning, and got the final out of the game on a groundout to third base.

Hoelman prided himself in running a quality practice schedule, and the hard work was evident, as Denenberg struck out seven Titans, walked three and allowed just four hits.

Linford and O'Brien provided most of the juice on offense, combining to drive in four Blazers and going a combined 4-for-5 from the plate. O'Brien and Linford led a stolen base frenzy, as they swiped three sacks each. Sarah Rumbaugh stole two bases, despite reaching base just once in the game.

Linford scored three of the runs today, scoring off O'Brien's hit as well as her own. Claire Lieberman also drove home Linford once, as she went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

But after the fireworks of the third inning put Blair up 5-0, they played Einstein even for the remainder of the game, something that irked Hoelman.

The manager said that while Blair did enough to beat Einstein today, that's not enough to beat the elite clubs in Maryland.

"I thought today," Hoelman said, "that after we got the lead on them, we stopped pressing and we need to work on that. It's a positive start, but we have got to play better to beat the best teams."

Blair will get a good test of their real chances for glory in 2005 when they take a road trip on Wednesday to face the Watkins Mill Wolverines, who finished second in the Montgomery County 4A Division last season.

Said Hoelman, "We've got to come focused to play Watkins Mill. It will be a big game."

Linford, today's hero at the plate, will toe the rubber on Wednesday as the starting pitcher in a game that is as much a litmus test as just another softball game.

But today, even Hoelman could be satisfied with the win. "I see high school sports as about getting better," he said.

A four-hitter is better than nearly everything else.



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  • Em on March 22, 2005 at 1:45 PM
    Not only is this poorly written, but alot of the information is wrong. Do a better job next time!

    Go Blair Softball!
  • Jenna Craver (View Email) on March 22, 2005 at 2:04 PM
    i love holeman. he is awesome and congrats, to the team for winning. i hope to be on the team next year. GO BLAZERS!!!!
  • .. on March 22, 2005 at 3:40 PM
    "But he got the next Titan to roll over to Linford, playing shortstop, and the inning ended without damage."

    you mean SHE
  • softball fan on March 22, 2005 at 5:42 PM
    Great article! Great game! Go Blair softball!
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on March 24, 2005 at 2:25 PM
    Em, whats wrong? Aside from the bad botching of the "he/she" thing in paragraph eight. That was a dumb oversight. Sorry, Annie.
  • Em on March 26, 2005 at 11:52 AM
    The most apparent mistake is that you left out Shante Henderson's amazing hitting.

    "Senior Emily O'Brien drove in two runs in the first inning, and Blair staked itself to a 3-0 lead after the first inning."

    I drove in one run with a triple, Shante Henderson drove me in with another triple.
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